Few if any players know how to achieve success in the Westfield W-League like Clare Polkinghorne.
The Brisbane Roar skipper and the club’s most-capped player, has been there since day one for the league’s most successful club across five grand finals, including two championship wins.
So when ‘Polks’ talks finals football, she knows what she is talking about.
Brisbane Roar missed the semi-finals for the first time last season, and were in serious danger of doing so again this season. But the last month has seen the new-look Roar find their feet, leaving Adelaide United and Newcastle Jets looking nervously over the shoulders in the race for fourth.
Brisbane have recently secured impressive wins over Sydney FC and Adelaide United, wedged either side of hard-fought 1-0 loss to Melbourne City, in which the runaway leaders were perhaps pushed harder than they had been all season.
And the experienced Polkinghorne, who is eyeing a berth in next month’s Westfield Matildas Olympic qualifiers squad, says the Roar are finding their feet at the right time.
It was a big result for the Roar against Adelaide on Sunday. Take us through the match…
It was a little bit of a funny game. There was a really strong wind which was behind us in the first half. We dominated the first half, created a lot of chances and scored three in the first half which is always want you want to do in an important game. It was hard for either team to find any rhythm in the second half, and definitely a good win on the road.
Can you feel the momentum from the performances of the past few weeks?
We started off the season well with a few wins, and then in the last month we have really put some good performances together. Sydney was a real turning point for us when we got a few goals and a really strong performance. Even against Melbourne City last week we put them under a lot of pressure and were probably unlucky not to get something from that game. We have been gaining in confidence and now have six points up for grabs so we just need to make sure we win both games. We knew that once we got past the Melbourne and Sydney games, our last three games could leave things in our hands with matches against Adelaide and Newcastle, and that would really build momentum going into the finals if it did go our way.
Is there anything you are doing differently recently compared to earlier in the season?
Scoring goals definitely helps which we had struggled to do. We have scored six in our past three games, and we probably score six in the rest of the season. We have been growing throughout the season, and I don’t think in any game we have played terribly. It is a matter of developing the way we want to play, and it is starting to pay off for us.
Do you feel, given the Roar’s experience in the finals, that you could potentially cause some damage at the pointy end of the season?
If we keep playing the way we are, and keep scoring goals, we can beat anybody. Anything can happen in finals football, and it is a case of the team which shows up on the day. We have some experience but we also some youngsters that don’t have that finals experience, but if we get there I have confidence in the girls to do a job.
And on a personal level, have you been fully fit this season?
I have and it is great to get game time under my belt and not have niggly issues. Hopefully I can get more game time under my belt and take my game to the next level. I feel physically and mentally at 100 percent, so I just need to keep working hard and look to break back into the Matildas again.
Are Olympic qualifiers always in the back of the mind?
Yes, we have been juggling W-League and Matildas’ camps this season which is a new challenge for us. Obviously it is a major tournament for the Matildas so I’m sure everyone has one eye on it.